Form NCC1, or the Rape Clause, as it is commonly known, has been introduced without a parliamentary vote, ostensibly, as a means by which to provide tax credits for women who have had children as a result of rape or a coercive relationship. What it actually does is force women to relive the trauma of rape in order to apply for child tax credits. It punishes a woman for a crime enacted upon her while the perpetrator is likely – given the low prosecution rate for rape – to remain unpunished. (Perhaps a parallel action offering prosecution of the rapist would give some balance to the policy.) By stipulating that the woman not be living with the child’s father penalises women who have no choice but to remain in coercive relationships.
The policy has been condemned by Engender, Rape Crisis Scotland, and Scottish Women’s Aid (here, here, and here) who have stated that they will not provide the third party support required for tax credit applications for children conceived as a result of rape or coercive relationship. In a letter to The Guardian, 80 psychologists expressed concern over the psychological risks to both mother and child inherent in forcing a woman to relive the trauma of the child’s conception.
So, what can you do? Well, I spent Saturday morning emailing MPs and MSPs with my concerns. If you’re not sure what to say, Rape Crisis Scotland has created a template letter, which I contributed to, and you can find here.
Here’s the list of people I contacted:
The MP for your constituency (find them here)
The MSP for your constituency (find them here)
The MP for Women and Equality, Justine Greening (email@example.com)
Shadow MP for Women and Equality, Sarah Champion (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The MP responsible for tax credits, David Gauke (email@example.com)
The head of the Scottish Conservative Party, Ruth Davidson (ruth.davidson.MSP@parliament.scot)
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon (Nicola.Sturgeon.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Prime Minister Theresa May (email@example.com).
You can also get in touch with organisations that oppose the rape clause to offer your support. Scottish Women’s Aid, Engender, and Rape Crisis Scotland have made their opposition known so contact them for a start.
There’s a demo in Glasgow on April the 13th at 6pm in George Square, to #scraptherapeclause. Details are on facebook.